I will most likely be remembered for being the zucchini queen. It is a title I never aspired to, but it could be worse I suppose.

When I put together my cookbook, “The Zucchini Houdini,” it was done tongue-in-cheek and I never really expected the book to get out to anyone but my family and friends. I’m thrilled that is has now reached people all over the country.

The recipes all include zucchini, but it is not a vegetarian or even a health food cookbook. Zucchini is inherently healthy, but the recipes in my cookbook were developed to be delicious — period, which often means decadent. One of the recipes that is popular in the book has recently been featured in Shape magazine as one of "10 Healthy Chili Recipes."

So, yes, this one is healthy. However, it is also hearty, savory and satisfying. It is my zucchini chili, and it is the a great dish for a cold, winter’s night.

It combines all the ingredients you would expect in traditional chili but with the fresh and tasty flavors of a fall harvest. You can spice it up or down depending on your family’s tastes. The Zucchini Queen gives this her royal seal of approval!



2 pounds extra lean ground beef (or ground turkey)

2 tablespoons oil

2 cups onions, chopped

6 cups zucchini, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 15-ounce cans kidney beans

4 tablespoons chili powder

1½ tablespoons cumin

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2 teaspoons cayenne

2 teaspoons salt


1 bunch cilantro, chopped.

Brown ground beef and drain. Set aside. In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, zucchini and garlic in oil until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and spices. Add water to bring to desired consistency. Simmer one hour. Serve with chopped cilantro on top.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of three. She is a cookbook author and novelist. Her website is at talesofthedinnerbelle.com.